Teacher Ready I

I recently began an alternative route to professional teaching licensure through Teacher Ready a program supported by the University of West Florida. There were several reasons I started this program. The first being that I am interested in learning more about Common Core standards and how teachers should operate, and design their classes within these standards. The second was to improve myself as an educator, to reflect on my teaching practices and incorporate new ideas into my pedagogy. Finally, the Teacher Ready program has the opportunity to further my education by transferring 12 credit hours to the University of West Florida’s Curriculum and Instruction M.Ed, which has a cognate in Instructional Technology. I have recently completed the second lesson, and thought it would be a good time to reflect, and synthesize what I have learned recently.

It is interesting to see the parallels presented in this Teacher Ready course to things I have been learning in courses for Instructional Design. Despite the fact that Teacher Ready is focusing on best practices for the elementary or secondary school classroom, there are important similarities that are represented in the lessons presented at Skillagents and Blendkit. Although there are important distinctions between how adults and children or adolescents learn there are comparable elements, specifically regarding learner engagement and the development of aligned learning objectives.

One of the first things that I learned in the Teacher Ready course, was the importance of the learners’ first interaction with the teacher and the course material. This was referred to as PRIME TIME, and is related to the notion of first impressions. It is not only the first day of school, but the first few minutes of class as well. If successfully prepared for, it presents the students with an instructor who is prepared, caring, calm and stable. It sets the tone for the course by clearly defining the expectations for all the participants of the course. Finally, it is rooted in the idea that the learning process is ongoing and collaborative, the learners are valuable and represent untapped potential that can be realized through the structured design of this learning environment. These ideas of worth and potential have been discussed in the Value Mindset of Skillagents. The idea of establishing clear expectations for learners in the blended learning environment were presented in Blendkit as well. These ideas are intimately related to the second lesson in Teacher Ready that focused on defining learning objectives.

The Teacher Ready course is dedicated to preparing teachers to enter the classroom in American or International schools. The second lesson in Teacher Ready focuses on defining learning objectives from the Common Core standards that many states have adopted. Learning objectives are essential to the learning process. They represent the necessary steps for learners to be successful not only in their educational pursuit but in the ownership of this process, that is the development of learning autonomy. Learning objectives need to be challenging to the students, clearly defined, and referenced throughout the course. Learning objectives are a communication tool. They express to the learners the goals of the course, describe the relevance of the practice activities within the course, and shape the feedback whether that be personal self-reflection, teacher created assessments, or responses from peers. One very interesting statistic related to the use of learning objectives as a communication tool is that merely stating the day or lesson’s objectives can increase student achievement by 27%, and by including a rubric for their learning to encourage self-reflection can increase that rate to 37%.

There is much more to say about both of these topics, and I am sure they will be referred to regularly throughout the Teacher Ready course. It is exciting to learn new things related to instruction from a different perspective, and I look forward to the following courses in Teacher Ready and how I can apply those lessons learned to my own instructional designs.

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4 thoughts on “Teacher Ready I

  1. Where does John Hattie’s research show that stating objectives gives that much benefit? I have seen having behavioral objectives (as opposed to non-measurable objectives) in his effect sizes list, but that’s not the same thing as what the part you cited said. In fact, I have seen other research showing that taking the listing of objectives out of a lesson had no impact. That was for elearning, not classroom teaching, but I would be surprised to see such a larger difference. Have you been able to verify what that blog post claims about Hattie’s research?

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    1. Christy,

      I appreciate you taking the time to comment on my blog, and your questions are very thought provoking. I did a little digging and it looks like the 27% is related to Hattie’s idea of teacher clarity which includes how teachers communicate throughout the lesson, but learning objectives are emphasized. So it seems like Shields may have stretched the efficacy of just stating objectives. The behavioral objectives that you mentioned are significantly lower. What is usually mentioned when it comes to sharing the learning objectives with students is that some discussion takes place with the students about what they might mean, or how they think they can be accomplished which may add to the efficacy in regard to activating learning. I haven’t been able to validate this personally in my own courses yet, but it is an interesting area to explore. How about you, what have you found in this regard? Do you usually state learning objectives at the beginning of your eLearning courses?

      Cheers,
      Martin

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      1. Ah, that makes more sense! Yes, I can see how someone might misinterpret Hattie’s teacher clarity as meaning stating the formal learning objectives. In my experience, the actual language of learning objectives is important as a teacher or instructional designer, but that specific wording isn’t always the best for students. You can rephrase objectives to more approachable language. With adult learners and elearning, that means focusing on a “what’s in it for me” at the beginning of a course rather than just listing objectives in a bullet point list. One exception is for online teacher training and professional development. I have found that teachers generally want and expect that formal language.

        It’s fairly common in elearning to literally list the objectives, largely through tradition or some misplaced understanding of Gagne’s Nine Events. I personally think it’s fairly boring to start a course that way though. It sets a very formal, passive tone for elearning. There are better ways to explain the relevance and identify goals than by listing the objectives word-for-word.

        Part of why the 27% statistic surprised me in your post was that it contradicted the research I summarized in my post on questioning Gagne and Bloom’s relevance. That research found that practice with feedback make much more difference than any other element of the online training. Removing the learning objectives didn’t affect the learning outcomes, at least in that study. I think telling people the goals and what the course can help them do may affect their motivation to take and complete the course (a critical concern for online training with adult learners). It may not have much impact on actual retention or transfer of knowledge though.

        The full text of an earlier version of that research is available via ERIC (the later version is behind a paywall): http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED484984.pdf

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      2. Thanks again for taking the time to share your expertise and resources. I found your post on Gagne and Bloom enlightening and the subsequent discussion intriguing. I think new students can often latch onto a model or theory from an established scholar quite religiously, but I think through practice they learn that no theory can be applied to every context, and generally should be approached as guidelines as you and your readers concluded. I found the distinction that you mentioned regarding conceptual and procedural knowledge interesting. It seems similar to the shift from consciously unskilled to consciously skilled, or would it be the following step to unconsciously skilled? In any case I agree as an experienced teacher practice with feedback is where the lion’s share of learning takes place. Thank you for the advice on writing learning objectives, I am designing an induction course where I integrated the learning objectives with the table of contents, but wasn’t sure how I should title the slide if at all. Thanks for shining some light into my little corner of the Internet.

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